Pedro Castillo is the new president of Peru, after defeating Keiko Fujimori in a run-off vote.
Peru has a new president-elect. Pedro Castillo was declared the winner of the election by a margin of about 3%.
Pedro Castillo, a far-left union leader whose ascent has shocked Peru’s political establishment, was sworn in as president-elect on Monday night, amid rising social discontent in a nation ravaged by the coronavirus epidemic.
After dismissing fraud allegations from Mr. Castillo’s right-wing opponent, Keiko Fujimori, election authorities confirmed Mr. Castillo’s victory more than six weeks after the election. He will be sworn in on July 28 after receiving 50.1 percent of the vote in the June 6 election, compared to 49.9% for Ms. Fujimori, who has refused to recognize the results.
Peru’s capitalist economy, which has depended on global commerce to fuel one of Latin America’s fastest-growing economies for the last two decades, may be overhauled if the 51-year-old leader of a Marxist party is elected.
Mr. Castillo’s ascent, as a former rural Andean schoolteacher, exemplifies how the epidemic may spark a reaction against the governing elite in hard-hit nations. His victory came amid popular outrage over the state’s inability to provide adequate public services despite years of robust economic growth and a series of corruption scandals that have tainted many prominent lawmakers.
Peru’s epidemic has killed more people per capita than any other country in the world, exposing a failing public health system. It also pushed approximately 10% of the population back into poverty, undoing 15 years of progress.
Mr. Castillo’s inauguration on the 200th anniversary of Peru’s independence, however, may exacerbate tensions since he is up against an opposition that views his victory as fraudulent and believes he poses a danger to the market economy.
“It’s quite probable that we’ll have some kind of institutional crisis,” said Steven Levitsky, a Harvard University political scientist who follows Peru carefully.
From Venezuela to Brazil to Bolivia and Mexico, leftist Latin American presidents have risen to power since 1999, following years of developing support via political organizations that drew people dissatisfied with conventional politicians.
Keiko Fujimori said that she would respect the electoral commission’s decision.
Reuters photo/Sebastian Castaneda
Mr. Castillo, on the other hand, seemed to win the president out of nowhere. He comes from a rural Andean left on the outside of Peru’s national politics as a political rookie with no governing experience. According to pollsters, he does not have broad support, as shown by how close he came to losing to Ms. Fujimori, the daughter of former authoritarian President Alberto Fujimori. According to a Datum survey conducted last month, just 20% of Peruvians support Mr. Castillo’s main campaign pledge of rewriting the constitution.
Cynthia McClintock, a Peru specialist at George Washington University, stated, “Castillo is very secluded.” “It’s going to be a difficult journey for him.”
Ms. McClintock predicted that his five-year tenure would be difficult, pointing to a Congress that can easily impeach presidents. The business community will be outspoken in its opposition to his interventionist plans. Hundreds of former military leaders have asked the military to intervene and prevent him from becoming president.
Ms. Fujimori stated on Monday that she would accept the electoral commission’s judgment, but claimed the vote was rigged, without providing evidence. The election was dubbed a “model of democracy” in Latin America by the United States. The vote, according to the Organization of American States and the European Union, was free and fair.
Mr. Castillo was voted in by Guillermo Artiaga, a 52-year-old potato farmer who believes he would generate employment and improve healthcare and education in rural Peru.
Mr. Artiaga said, “People are afraid of change.” “But it shouldn’t be that way; change may be beneficial at times.”
Mr. Castillo has promised to preserve fiscal stability and requested Julio Velarde, Peru’s well-respected central bank governor, to continue in his position. Because of his precarious political position, Roque Benavides, a Peruvian mining entrepreneur, believes Mr. Castillo will have little option but to moderate and meet with business leaders.
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Many Peruvians are concerned about Mr. Castillo’s demand on a new constitution since it is a strategy often employed by communist strongmen in Latin America to consolidate control.
Katy Ugarte, a congresswoman from Mr. Castillo’s Free Peru Party, stated, “Private corporations don’t care about anything but stealing our natural resources.” She wants the next president to nationalize the country’s natural gas reserves and to write a new constitution.
Uncertainty over the next president has prompted many Peruvians to convert their savings to dollars and transfer their funds. Meanwhile, the central bank’s foreign reserves dropped by $9 billion, or more than 10%, between April and the end of June.
Mr. Castillo’s detractors claim he is a communist with connections to a previous Maoist insurgency that plagued Peru in the 1980s and early 1990s during street demonstrations. Mr. Castillo refutes these claims.
“For us, the battle is just getting started,” said Armando Rojas, a 47-year-old Lima lawyer. “We will not allow our nation to sink into a pit of despair.”
Mr. Castillo, said Juan Carlos Santiago, a 65-year-old Lima small-business owner, would unravel Peru’s fragile democratic institutions and attempt to stay in power forever. Mr. Santiago said that he would back a coup.
Mr. Santiago said, “I would support any anticommunist action.”
Peru is experiencing increasing political instability, according to Michael Shifter, head of the Inter-American Dialogue policy organization in Washington, D.C. Mr. Castillo’s opponents, he said, are guilty of “typical Cold War mentality,” which holds that “in order to preserve democracy, we must undermine democracy in order to defeat the communists.”
Mr. Shifter said, “The greatest danger is not the establishment of a communist government, but total anarchy and disaster.” “There is a ripe foundation for potential violence.”
Politics in Peru
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Ryan Dube can be reached at [email protected]
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Peru’s presidential election was held on June 5th, 2016. Pedro Castillo of the Popular Force party was declared the winner with a majority of votes. Reference: peru presidential election.
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